The provincial government’s “underwhelming” response today to a groundbreaking report on the precarious state of wildlife and wilderness in BC recycles failed policies and underscores the urgent need for a species at risk law for the province says a coalition of leading environmental organizations.
“British Columbia is in desperate need of an endangered species law to recover our species at risk, and to prevent species from becoming at risk in the first place,” said Devon Page of EcoJustice. “We need a law that compels habitat protection. Unfortunately that’s not what was announced today.”
Coming on the heels of a 300-plus page groundbreaking report by Biodiversity BC (www.biodiversitybc.org) on the precarious state of BC wildlife, “Taking Nature’s Pulse,” the BC Government’s response, labeled the “Conservation Framework,” recycles the same patchwork of weak and discretionary regulations that have failed to halt species decline in the first place. BC has over 1,600 species at risk, and is one of only two provinces without an endangered species act.
“Our focus groups show that British Columbians are shocked when they learn that ‘The Best Place on Earth’ doesn’t have a law that protects its wildlife,” said Candace Batycki of ForestEthics. “The only other Canadian province that doesn’t have an endangered species act is Alberta.”
“The governments’ response has been underwhelming to say the least,” said Dr. Faisal Moola, Director of Science with the David Suzuki Foundation. “With the fate of thousands of species hanging in the balance, and Global Warming threatening to tip the scales, we were really hoping for a law.”
The groups are especially critical of the government’s continuing failure to adequately fund species at risk recovery efforts, estimating that the province currently spends approximately $10 million annually on species recovery – the equivalent cost of constructing one kilometer of a four lane highway.
“While it’s helpful to have a detailed description of the situation like the Biodiversity BC status report, without a law that actually compels action it’s a bit like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic – or pointing and saying, ‘Look! Iceberg!’” said Gwen Barlee of the Wilderness Committee.